Got anxiety? If so, you’re in good company. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, spanning a broad range from generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorder to more severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and more. These disorders often have negative impacts on daily life, interfering with work, school, and personal relationships. But AI-enabled help is at hand. According to a new study, digital therapeutics (DTx) may offer a way to significantly reduce anxiety symptoms. 

Alex Therapeutics, a Stockholm-based digital therapeutics startup, recently announced the preliminary results of a clinical study in which their digital therapies helped to reduce anxiety in patients by 49%. Participants in the study suffer from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a rare and chronic lung disease that’s often marked by symptoms of depression and anxiety. During the 4-week pilot phase of the study, 10 patients were given access to the startup’s DTx Almee, which was developed in conjunction with the Swedish pharmaceutical company Vicore Pharma. The patients’ self-reported experiences show that the use, functionality, and safety of the DTx were all positive.

So how does the Alex DTx platform work? It’s built on long-established treatments for a variety of somatic and psychiatric disorders, using the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). With some turbo-charging from an AI engine, a network with millions of data points optimizes and personalizes treatments, delivering insights from past treatments to improve current and future ones. The interface has exercises that help users to assess their values and understand the interconnectedness of emotions, thoughts, and behavior, as well as offering suggestions for making positive changes. 

While the study had just 10 subjects, its results are still notable. Alex Therapeutics CEO John Drakenberg says, “We’re very pleased with these early efficacy results for one of our anxiety Digital Therapeutics. Even though the patient population is small, it’s a positive indication heading into the next phase of the clinical trial.” And that next phase is headed to American shores; Alex Therapeutics is planning a US-based 9-week clinical investigation with 250 patients who have pulmonary fibrosis for later this year. Drakenberg adds, “Digital Therapeutics have tremendous potential for treating depressive and anxiety symptoms in somatic diseases and we look forward to continuing our work in the space.”